Smart phones gain ground as mobile shipments rise

1 Jun 2004

Mobile device shipments for the first quarter of the year rose by 41pc on the same period in 2003, according to the latest research from Canalys. The smart phone market enjoyed even more substantial growth, up 115pc.

Canalys, the UK analyst firm, has identified several differences in manufacturer performance that varies according to geographical region. Its estimates showed that whereas Nokia has a 48pc share of the market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, worldwide its share is 28.2pc – still enough to take the number one position however. Outside Europe Nokia does not enjoy as much of a lead on its rivals palmOne and HP.

In EMEA, Nokia dominates the smart phone segment with a 73pc share, whereas palmOne only has around 1pc, behind Motorola and several non-US firms including Sony Ericsson, Siemens and Orange. In North America, the situation is quite different: palmOne is the leading smart phone vendor with 37pc share, ahead of Nokia (25pc), Motorola (16pc) and Samsung (15pc). Nokia’s share in the Asia-Pacific region that accounts for a third of the global market for smart phones, is similar, but it is behind fellow Symbian-based vendor Fujitsu, with Motorola again in close attendance.

“These regional differences can have quite profound effects on future global market progression,” commented Chris Jones, Canalys director and senior analyst. “It is very easy for companies in a strong position in one territory to assume they can carry that success into others, but a product design and brand that is accepted in, for example, the US, may not do so well in Europe or Asia, and vice versa. In the smart phone and wireless handheld segments the vendor’s operator relationships are also critical.”

Overall, close to six million mobile devices of all kinds were shipped in the first quarter of this year. Nokia shipped 1,670,160 devices worldwide, up by 85pc from its own figures in 2003. in second place, palmOne moved 995,960 units to give the company 16.8pc of the market. Although this represents a drop on the first three months of 2003, there is clear daylight between palmOne and its nearest challenger HP, which has 9.7pc of the market having shipped 577,650 devices.

In fourth place, RIM holds 6.4pc of the market. Canalys noted that the company finally made strides in Europe, having expanded its relationships with mobile operators and added features such as colour screens to its BlackBerry mobile email device.

The handheld market, comprising devices such as the palmOne Tungsten and wireless systems such as O2’s xda and the RIM BlackBerry, is enjoying mixed fortunes. In EMEA, handheld shipments fell from 40pc to 29pc although they still grew in absolute terms. In the Asia/Pacific region, the same trend was in evidence with a drop from 53pc to 27pc. In North America, handhelds still account for the majority of mobile device shipments, but have fallen from a very high 83pc to 59pc. Canalys has predicted that handhelds will come under even more pressure as the number and range of smart phones available on the market increases.

By contrast, smart phones are on the increase. Canalys defines this category as devices used mainly for voice, but which can synchronise data with a PC and can also have applications loaded on to the operating system. In Q1 2004, smart phones represented 63pc of mobile device shipments in EMEA, up from 35pc a year earlier. In the Asia/Pacific region, the smart phone proportion rose from 30pc to 69pc over the course of a year. Even in North America, where handhelds still rule the roost, smart phones have increased from 10pc to 23pc.

By Gordon Smith